Ever heard the term “Rainbow Baby”? A baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal loss, or infant death. I heard the phrase for the first time this morning almost immediately after learning of the NICU death of a friend of a friend’s micropreemie. Thank goodness not in the same conversation, because responding to the death of a child in the NICU with anything other than tears and a hug, a heartfelt expression of empathy, or holding space for grief is inappropriate. My heart breaks for those parents. In this context, I cannot help but think of my losses (all during pregnancy) and the fears I carried for my micropreemie until he stabilized and started meeting normal developmental milestones.
Miscarriage is very common and still a taboo topic in many circles. Many families suffer alone (and too often, women suffer alone despite a partner being present).
So, here is my story.
I have a child for every miscarriage I suffered while trying for 2 kids. One before my first child and 3 between him and the triplets. None of the miscarriages were ever understood or explained. I had given up trying for a second child when the triplets were conceived.
Triplets, though wonderful, are a challenge I do not wish on anyone. From the high risk pregnancy to the never-ending parade of too many crying babies with not enough adult hands to care for to the cost of having extra children who do not benefit from hand-me-downs, having triplets has always been almost more than I could handle. And my marriage didn’t survive the stress. To say that if I believed in God, I would also believe God has a sick sense of humour is an understatement.
I don’t like the cuteness of the term, but all my kids are Rainbow Babies and they take my breath away when I don’t take them for granted. They bring me great joy – along with all the heartaches and struggles that are just part of life with other people. And, the fact of my joy doesn’t eliminate the grief I had over my miscarriages and still carry in my body as memories and experiences. The joy and the grief dance together in my history.
Does the joy outweigh the grief? Yes.
Does the joy make the grief easier to live with? Yes.
Like sugar and salt in the broccoli stir-fry I make for my kids, the sweet and the bitter together make each experience more poignant if we can pay attention to the whole.